Young moms support group fosters care and friendship
Even for young moms well supported by their partners and family, early motherhood can be fraught. How much more so for young single moms who may experience estrangement from their families and peers and, in many cases, severe financial difficulties.
Tracy Engelbrecht, who had her son at the tender age of 15, and whose autobiography “The Girl who couldn’t say No: Memoir of a Teenage Mom” was published in 2007, has started up a support group in Fish Hoek for teenage moms. The group has now met twice and from the feedback from Tracy that follows, it may be seen that the support group is not just a “coffee group” but an encouraging, caring and dynamic community of young women who have the wellbeing of their children as well as each other at heart.
Our second Young Mom Support Group meeting was a great success!
Thank you to all local community organizations and individuals who helped spread the word. It is much appreciated!
We had moms from all walks of life chatting together, their children making friends, and having a laugh. It was great to see them supporting each other and sharing ideas on parenting and life in general.
The love they have for their children and their determination to be great moms, whatever their circumstances, really shone through.
In addition, their concern for other moms in their community who may not be coping as well was evident – challenging assumptions about young mother’s attitudes towards the responsibilities of motherhood. They had very strong ideas about the right and wrong way to do things, and refused to be tarred with the same brush as those unstable and irresponsible moms. The challenge now becomes to reach those troubled mothers, and convince them to join us – hopefully our group moms will help us do that.
All of the moms had dreams and plans for the future – either for studying, working, or starting their own businesses. However, a big stumbling block to those plans is the lack of quality, affordable childcare in their area. They can’t find anyone reliable to look after baby while they go off to college or work, or they can’t afford the care that is out there. Therefore they’re forced to stay home – stuck in the cycle of being unable to improve their circumstances and prospects. Most had some level of family support, both emotional and financial, but all dreamed of standing on their own two feet.
The lack of good, accessible childcare is causing families to struggle and fail, trapping young mothers into dependence on others and standing in the way of self-reliance – we need to work harder to change this. Some moms even spoke of resorting to starting their own daycare facilities – these resourceful moms need support, encouragement and direction to help them achieve their goals.
We are primarily a social group and not a formal counseling service, nor are we a prescriptive parenting workshop. However, having gotten to know the moms, we may now be in a position to identify moms who may be in need of such formal services, and we can then refer them to the appropriate service providers, and look forward to building relationships with other organisations.
Not all young moms need “intervention” by formal caregivers, nor do they all need their parenting and lives “managed” by outside organizations. Some just need a place to feel comfortable, safe and supported in their parenting, and perhaps be exposed to other moms who are good role models in their decision making and experiences.
A group such as ours may well be part of the solution to stop those serious problems before they take hold – nipping them in the bud before any formal intervention is necessary.
Our group meets monthly at False Bay Hospital in Fish Hoek. Meeting dates and times will always be posted on our website and communicated to the local clinics, hospitals and schools. Please let us know if you’d like to be kept up to date on our latest times, alternatively, if you’d prefer to removed from our mailing list, please let me know.
For more information:
Tracy Engelbrecht Tel: 072 986 3105
Find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Girl-Who-Couldnt-Say-No/144929542219939